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STATEMENT OF HON. ROBIN PIRIE, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRE

TARY OF DEFENSE FOR MANPOWER, RESERVE AFFAIRS AND LOGISTICS, AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE ANALYSIS

Mr. PIRIE. I appreciate the opportunity to testify on these matters before you, and to appear before you one more time.

My primary interest is in the matter of ensuring high-quality, well-trained, and independent staffing for joint staffs. That is an area in which I have some background and prior experience. To provide some context for my remarks on that issue, I would like to outline the system in which I have to see the joint staffs operating, and perhaps some such system will evolve out of current deliberations.

The system I hope to see has the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the senior military adviser to the President and the Secretary of Defense in the chain of command between Secdef and the unified and specified commanders. The Chairman is supported by a Vice or Deputy Chairman, permanently appointed as his Deputy and alter ego, who acts for the Chairman in his absence.

The Chairman is supported by a Joint Staff that reports to him, and is independent of the services. He acts—the Chairman, that is-acts as spokesman for the unified and specified commanders, in the formulation of national strategy, the allocation of resources to the various missions of the Department of Defense, and in the development, deployment, and employment of military forces.

The Secretary of Defense and his main military adviser, the Chairman, would develop defense policy to support the broader national security objectives developed by the National Security Council. The armed services would develop and maintain forces as directed by the Secretary of Defense. The unified and specified commanders would be responsible for operations and for developing realistic war strategy and plans in support of defense policies.

In that context, I believe that change is needed in the selection, training, and promotion of officers who will serve in joint billets, these being billets on the Joint Staff and the staffs of the unified and specified commanders. I find myself greatly in sympathy with what I see as the underlying motivation of H.R. 4235—that is, to get the best military officers involved in joint duty, to assure they have appropriate training, and to assure that they are not penalized by the promotion systems of their services for their loyal performance of joint duties. The current Joint Staff system and service promotions systems cannot meet these criteria.

Under present arrangements, the interests of the individual armed services are protected in the joint arena by the dominance of the Chiefs, the virtual veto power of any Chief over issues that are considered by the JCS, the position of the Chairman as spokesman for the Chiefs, powerlessness and general lack of relevance in the Joint Staff. In such a situation, the services have no incentive to assign top people to joint duty. Similarly, training and education for more effective performance on joint staffs is a low priority item for the services. It is with respect to the system of promotions, however, that the worst deficiencies of current practice arise. Briefly, and very generally, the officer promotion systems of the services inevitably tend to reward conformity and parochialism and to penalize independence.

The reason for this is not hard to see. Each year the services convene selection boards to recommend officers for promotion to the next higher grade. The zone of eligibility for promotion is determined by time in grade. The numbers to be selected, including how many may be selected ahead of their contemporaries and how many may be picked up after having been passed over earlier, are specified to the selection board in advance. The board contains senior representatives from the important service communities for warfare specialties. For example: In the Navy it would include surface warfare officers, submariners, and aviators. Each of these representatives wants to get as many of the candidates from his community promoted as possible, at least in the same proportion as those who are eligible for promotion-hopefully better. Not to do so exposes the individual to criticism for not supporting his side. The work of the board is generally very intense. The obvious nonpromotions are quickly identified by a screen of service records.

However, the vast bulk of the candidates, because of the wellknown grade-creep phenomenon, are found in an amorphous mass that might be loosely characterized as sort of excellent to outstanding. There is no numerical way of distinguishing these people from each other. Their records must be read for qualitative clues in the written remarks in the records, and in the nature of the duties that they perform. While attempts are made by the boards to do this subjectively-in fact, only a member of an individual's warfare specialty can really do it credibly.

Further, an individual's service reputation tends to reside in his or her community. Thus, support from the community representatives on a selection board is essential for promotion. Now this support is very often conditional on how ardent a supporter of the community interests the individual has been.

This should not shock us. Who is more likely to be promoted to major, other things being equal-the young captain who has been flying with the Thunderbirds for 2 years, or his contemporary who has been in the Office of Secretary of Defense helping senior civilian officials raise issues about the Air Force's budget submissions?

Well, this brief sketch is provided to underscore my doubts about whether officers with subspecialties and joint duty could survive and prosper in the present environment. Plainly, I do not think they could; and I do not think a young officer in his right mind would get involved in such things. I think therefore the change is needed.

Now, what I said indicates-the sort of change which I think, is needed. First, there must be a real job to be done, a real prospect of usefulness. Thus, the role of the Chairman, the unified and specified commanders, and their staffs should be made more pertinent as is currently being suggested in one form or another by many actors. Second, the officer who is given joint duty should be appropriately trained and seasoned; and, finally, and most important, officers who step outside the parochial interests of their services and warfare communities must not be penalized for doing so.

None of these changes will be easy to make, and I regret to say that I do not think they can be most effectively made by legislation. This bill, like other congressional attempts to legislate policy, is bound to have many unforeseen consequences and unintended results.

Some of the constraints it imposes on the officer personnel system may just be unworkable. For example, the provisions for qualification and selection of joint subspecialists essentially preempt 5 of the first 10 years in the officers' careers. For warfare specialists such as fighter pilots or submarine officers—these are exceedingly important years in the development of military skills. Whatever else we want for our joint subspecialists, I think we want them to be credible warfare specialists, even if they ultimately transcend that role. So, we have conflicting interests which are me diated awkwardly, at best, by legislation.

My own preference would be for Congress to specify the objectives for a joint subspecialty, and direct that the Secretary of Defense institute regulations to accomplish the objectives, reporting periodically on progress. I recognize that this mode of executive and legislative cooperation is not working very well, in contempo rary circumstances. Nevertheless, I believe that the legislation should be the last resort, to be pursued only if all efforts to get the Department to regulate itself fail. But I would like to reiterate that the intent of the legislation, its underlying motivations and its objectives, I think, are exactly right.

Mr. NICHOLS. Well, I am glad you agree with us that there is a problem there.

Mr. PIRIE. Yes, sir.

Mr. NICHOLS. Legislation may not be the way to correct it. You seem to feel like that it can be straightened out and corrections can be made to ensure promotion by regulation of the Secretary of Defense within the Department without the necessity of legislation. This is what I get from your testimony in the main.

Mr. PIRIE. Yes, sir, but, as I say, an underlying assumption there is that the system is changed in such a way as to give the Chairman the kind of authority and status that we are talking about.

Mr. NICHOLS. OK, let me get into the area of purchasing, and so forth. I know that was not particularly in your shop of Manpower, Reserve Affairs and Logistics, but it would probably fit in there. Mr. Courter from New Jersey, a member of this subcommittee, has introduced a bill to do away with DLA and the Defense Contract Audit Agency. The Defense Logistics Agency has somewhere around 52,000—ballpark-employees, and many people feel that it has grown too large. The Army and Air Force Service Secretaries generally advised us against completely disbanding the DLA. The Secretary of the Navy supports the abolishment of DLA, and, I believe, has even made the statement that he could assume the buying responsibilities for the Navy within the Department without additional manpower, if DLA was done away with. Give us your ideas on that, please sir.

Mr. PIRIE. My experience with DLA and its relation to the military services and their supply components—at least during the period in which I was familiar with them was that DLA did an effective job, both of buying and of distributing the kinds of parts and goods that they were responsible for. And the issues that arose with respect to DLA, when I was active in the Defense Department, generally concerned the boundaries between what would be better for the service to buy, and what would be better for DLA to buy. Those boundaries were generally defined by very specific engineering requirements of a particular service, which it was thought could only be understood by the engineers who had developed and produced the systems that these particular things were supposed to support: special kinds of spare parts for MAC (Military Airlift Command] airplanes, and things of that kind.

So, I do not recall any dispute about DLA buying the vast bulk of the common items and spare parts, the nuts, the bolts, the lock washers, the detergent, and all the thousands and thousands of things that are common to the services and are simply housekeeping items.

I do not think that there is a prima facie case for disbanding DLA. I expect that there really are economies of scale to be met, and so I would come down on the side of retaining present arrangements unless there were some very strong affirmative showing that DLA was not doing the job.

Mr. NICHOLS. Mr. Lally.
Mr. LALLY. I have no questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. NICHOLS. Mr. Barrett.
Mr. BARRETT. Yes, sir, thank you.

Mr. Pirie, what do you think about joint side representation on service-promotion boards in order to overcome some of the problems you mentioned?

Mr. PIRIE. I think that something of that kind would be absolutely essential to ensuring that there was a fair shake for a joint subspecialist on those promotion boards.

Mr. BARRETT. Not in legislation, though?

Mr. PIRIE. I think such a thing can be done in regulation by the Secretary of Defense, and I think there are other ways for the Secretary of Defense and for the Service Secretaries to protect the interests of joint subspecialists. For example, they could specify in advance some minimum number of-or proportionate-promotions for joint subspecialists and precepts to the selection boards. That is not done now, but there is no reason why it could not be.

Mr. BARRETT. What about the proposal to have the Chairman-to give the Chairman a voice in the service promotions after the promotion board has met?

Mr. PIRIE. I am ambivalent about that because I would really not be happy to have one more powerful individual in the loop. I think that case in which the Chairman would return, or reverse, the selection board's verdict would create friction that would be unfortunate. But I think some such mechanism would be important to ensure that justice was done, that the system worked properly. Perhaps it need not be the Chairman having a power of veto and change; perhaps the Chairman might advise the Secretary of Defense in the rare instance in which that would be necessary.

Mr. BARRETT. Of course, that would take legislation because the law is very specific on promotion boards, how their results will be handled.

You have such great expertise in this area that if you have an alternative proposal that might be less onerous—that you think might be less onerous and disruptive of the system-and you could provide it, it would, I think, be helpful to the subcommittee.

Mr. PIRIE. Yes, I do not have a totally unitary, well-formed proposal in mind. Whatever needs to be done in law to enable the Secretary and the Chairman to mediate the selection board process to assure that the joint subspecialists are not discriminated against should be placed into law. But the rest of it should be left to the Secretary to promulgate the appropriate regulations and to instruct the Secretaries of the services with respect to things like compositions of boards, like precepts of the boards, having to do with what is important and the proportions of people to be promoted from various communities and things of that kind.

Mr. BARRETT. All right. In your suggestion that most of these things should be in the form of guidelines from the Congress rather than specific requirements that could be too rigid, are you suggesting that the Congress direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a joint subspecialty and then give him guidelines that officers should be picked early enough in their career so that they could serve multiple tours in joint assignments, but not specify the 0-3 levela set of guidelines of that nature rather than what we have in the bill? Or are you suggesting that Congress do nothing and leave it to the good will of the Secretary?

Mr. PIRIE. No, I suggest the former. I do think that some articulation of congressional policy and something with some teeth in it is required.

Mr. BARRETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. NICHOLS. Thank you, Mr. Pirie.
Mr. PIRIE. My pleasure, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. NICHOLS. We appreciate your testimony.

That concludes the business of the afternoon. The next meeting of the subcommittee will be at 10 a.m., in this room. At that time, we will hear from Gen. Robert Herres, U.S. Air Force, Commander in Chief of the Aerospace Defense Command and the Space Command. The second witness will be Dr. Tom Peters, author of the publications, "In Search of Excellence" and "Passion for Excellence".

The committee stands adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 3:07 p.m., the committee was recessed, to be reconvened the following day, Wednesday, March 12, 1986, at 10 a.m.)

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